Commencement Addresses, Hypocritical Progressives, Jimmy Carter and Christianity, and Sigrid Undset


Commencement Bias. It’s commencement season for America’s colleges and universities, and—no surprise—conservatives are wildly underrepresented as speakers at the top universities. A survey by the Young America’s Foundation found that among the top 100 colleges, 45 had liberal commencement speakers, four had conservative speakers, and the rest either had no speaker, multiple speakers, or speakers whose positions are not known. The Daily Signal, reporting on the survey, concluded, “Diversity of thought continues to be decidedly unpopular at America’s top institutions of higher education.” The Daily Signal, which is the news service of The Heritage Foundation, added, “While the media is fixated on the hundred or so students who walked out of Pence’s speech at Notre Dame (never mind the vast majority who stayed seated), the bigger story is the lack of ideological diversity at America’s colleges.”

Just Sayin’. Some thoughts on gender: If the sexes are really interchangeable, and biological reality doesn’t matter, why do Transportation Security Administration officials use women to inspect women, and men to inspect men? Given the new world order, isn’t that gender bias? Shouldn’t inspectors come up randomly, or when available? My point is that most Americans, even most progressives, exercise common sense on these matters. The real issue is what my colleague here at The Colson Center calls “journalistic incentives.” Normal is not news. Abnormal is news. So stories about sexual identity, gender dysphoria, polyamory, and the like get outsized news coverage—which creates the impression in the public imagination that such behavior is much more common and acceptable than it really is.

Jesus said . . . what? When Nicholas Kristof interviewed Jimmy Carter for a recent New York Times article, the main topic they explored was Carter’s religion. I should note that I voted for Carter in 1976, when I was an 18-year-old Georgia boy and Carter professed to be a pro-life, born-again Christian. The country and I grew up fast, and Carter quickly became an ex-president, swept away by the Reagan Revolution. Still, Carter acquitted himself admirably in this interview. What struck me was one of Kristof’s questions: “How can I reconcile my admiration for the message of Jesus, all about inclusion, with a church history that is often about exclusion?” It’s hard to understand how Kristof could get “inclusion” from such teachings as “No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6) or “Straight is the way and narrow the gate” that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14). I guess when it comes to the Gospel, we all have a troubling tendency to hear what we want to hear.

Celebrating Sigrid Undset. Saturday, May 20, was the 135th birthday of Sigrid Undset. If you don’t know who she was, you are not alone, but she is a writer Christians should remember, read, and study. She wrote the monumental Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, for which she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Undset is one of only 14 women ever to have won this elite prize. Raised by atheist parents, she became an agnostic herself before converting to Christianity at age 42. In part as a result of her Christian faith, she became involved in resistance to the Nazis in her adopted country of Norway. (She was born in Denmark but moved to Norway when she was two years old.) She had to flee Norway during the Nazi occupation, but eventually returned and lived there to the end of her life. She died in 1949. Her devout Christianity is strongly reflected in her fiction, though the integration is organic, not dogmatic. She has been mostly forgotten by Christians today, but she should be studied as a model for how to authentically integrate faith and art.

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Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.

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  • Phoenix1977

    “The Daily Signal, which is the news service of The Heritage Foundation …”
    I really don’t want to offend anyone, but that one additional little sentence pretty much says it all, right?

    “If the sexes are really interchangeable, and biological reality doesn’t matter, why do Transportation Security Administration officials use women to inspect women, and men to inspect men? Given the new world order, isn’t that gender bias? Shouldn’t inspectors come up randomly, or when available?”
    Actually, you have a very good point there. They SHOULD come up randomly or when available. And I’m even going to make things a little more difficult for you: as a gay man I would prefer to be inspected by a woman instead of a man for all the obvious reasons. As if those poor TSA officials don’t have a difficult enough life as it is …

    • Steve

      The problem with that is the overwhelming majority of people agree with the custom that men should inspect men and women should inspect women. Unfortunately, it seems like a very small percentage of people are trying to force a change of what is accepted. Not everyone’s “preferences” can be satisfied in a society.
      The point of the comment in the article was to show how nonsensical the double standards are.
      Another one is this: the NCAA boycotted NC because of the “bathroom law” in which you were supposed to use the bathroom of your biological sex and yet the NCAA separates men’s and women’s sports.
      There are some absolutes and our “preferences” cannot change that.

      • Phoenix1977

        And why would minorities care what majorities want? After all, if that would be a factor blacks in the US would still have seperate bathrooms and drinking fountains. Because the majority of the people was fine with the status quo. Change never comes from majorities, only from minorities.

        Let me put your mind at ease: I couldn’t care less who inspects me. The inspection itself is troublesome enough. But I also know several of my friends have made quite a scene in airports in the past for being inspected by a man because they look like a man (being transgender) while they have transitioned to a woman (including the surgeries and everything). Same as a Dutch drag queen who was searched by a woman in the airport. Let’s just say the female security officer found more than she cared for.

        “There are some absolutes and our “preferences” cannot change that.”
        And this is exactly the point. Gender is no longer considered an absolute. The medical profession has accepted gender to be changeable and even being fluid. And, as usual, politics is several steps behind in adjusting the law. In the Netherlands the law has been amended, uncoupling gender from biological seks completely. If you fly from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport you will either be asked if you want to be inspected by a male or female officer or, if things are really busy, it is quite possible you will be inspected by a female officer even though you’re a man. Protests won’t help you and are likely to cause you to miss your flight. The only way to avoid being inspected by a member of the opposite sex is to not visit the Netherlands. But don’t worry: we are using full body scanners anyway so, unless you don’t follow instructions, the officers won’t have to touch you at all.

    • Steve

      I think the overwhelming majority of people would prefer to be searched by someone of their own sex.